It was near Daviston, Alabama on March 27, 1814 that a fortified village of Upper Creek (or Red Stick) Indians was attacked by a superior force under the leadership of Major General Andrew Jackson. Jackson started by firing cannons at the barricade for two hours, then his overanxious Indian allies pressed the issue by crossing the river to fight. Jackson quickly ordered his men to charge and overtook the stronghold. This proved to be the final battle of the Creek Indian War of 1813-14, which is considered part of the War of 1812. In the treaty that followed, the tribe ceded much of the land that became the state of Alabama to the United States. When Jackson became president in 1828, he signed the Indian Removal Bill and soon both the Upper Creeks and his former Indian allies were forced west on the Trail of Tears.
Museum, film, auto tour, nature trail
A short but good film is the best way to start learning about this lesser known yet important battle of the War of 1812 that brought fame to Andrew Jackson. A diorama in the visitor center illustrates the fortifications used at Horseshoe Bend. On the three-mile auto tour, only short walks are required from any interpretive pullout.
An alternative to the auto tour is a 2.8-mile nature trail that visits the same interpretive sites.
A tight curve in the Tallapoosa River in eastern Alabama provided the name for Horseshoe Bend National Military Park. Indian allies of the U.S. started the 1814 battle by swimming then paddling stolen canoes across the river to get behind the fortifications.
Humans have been visiting Russell Cave in northeast Alabama since about the time its limestone roof collapsed creating an entrance around 10,000 years ago. A timeline of human invention was preserved in the floor of this hunting camp for millennia, from atlatls to bows, pottery to pump drills. The park rangers were the friendliest we encountered during Pretirement and often offer demonstrations of prehistoric tools and weapons.
Museum with American
Indian artifacts, boardwalk to cave entrance, nature trails
There are a select few artifacts displayed on site in the
National Park Service (NPS) visitor center.
From there a short boardwalk leads through the forest to an overlook of
the archaeological digs at the cave entrance, which you cannot enter.
Two nature trails (0.6 and 1.2 miles long) split off from
the boardwalk to explore the surrounding hills.
This cave is not famous for its pretty cave formations, but
for its incredible archaeological record.
If you want to see beautiful stalactites and stalagmites, I recommend
you head west to the impressive Cathedral Caverns State Park.
Aircraft developed at an incredible rate between the Wright Brothers’ first flight in 1903 and the 1940s. Yet at the outset of World War II, African-American men were not allowed to be pilots in the Army Air Corps (before the 1947 creation of the Air Force). In 1941, an experimental program was started at Tuskegee Institute in Alabama to train hundreds of pilots, bombardiers, and navigators for the looming war. The site is housed in the old hangars at Moton Field airport where historic airplanes and excellent interpretive panels tell the story of the group of African-American men that came to be known as the Tuskegee Airmen.
P-51 Mustang airplane, interpretive film
Start your tour inside Hanger No. 1 then watch the film inside Hanger No. 2, where you will learn about the Tuskegee Airmen’s goal of Double-V, victory over the enemy abroad and victory over racism at home. After the war, in 1948, President Harry S Truman signed an order calling for “equality of treatment and opportunity for all persons in the armed services.”
Get a shot in front of the P-51 “Red Tail” hanging from the ceiling inside Hanger No. 2.
The site is open year round, but every Memorial Day weekend there is a big celebration at Moton Field and many of the surviving Tuskegee Airmen visit the site.